Friday, October 31, 2008

I know other people's dreams are boring, but I am impossibly dull.

The other night I dreamt that I was on holiday with the family-of-four-boys-five-and-under.

And their pet panda.

Yes. You read that right.

Their larger than life pet panda. He was built like a brick shithouse: think Jonah Lomu, double him in size, chop off his legs, imagine concrete has a high nutritional value and understand that is his food of choice, add some razor sharp long ninja-like claws, now cover him in black and white fur and you'll start to get the picture.

Needless to say I was a little dubious about this panda. Especially as I needed to get past him to get a book to read to one of the boys, and he also had his eye on one of the books.

'Don't worry about him, he's harmless,' assured Father-of-four-boys-five-and-under.

But I knew otherwise, I knew that that panda had the ability to turn me into sashimi or gently squash me to death and get out of it by it by claiming he was only giving me a bear hug.

And then the dream ended.

I text the short version of the dream to the Mother-of-four-boys-five-and-under.

'Were we having a nice holiday?' She text back.

'You were having a lovely old time. But I wouldn't trust that bear as far as I could kick the fucker.' I replied.

Last night I was around the Family-of-four-boys-five-and-under and Mother-of said to me, 'Oh my god, you have no idea what the five year old came home with.'

She said he came home from school yesterday, 'Mummy, Mummy - look what I did today!'

Yup, you guessed right.

It was a picture of that panda bear.

And the five year old hadn't heard about my dream.

That bear is messing with my head.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why ?

I am not for the death penalty, but in the case of Nia Glassie , I think a bullet to the brain would be far too humane a punishment for those responsible for her death.

This three year old died as a result of injuries after basically what was a life of horrific abuse that allegedly included being shut in a clothes dryer for up to twenty minutes and hung from a washing line until she fell off, while the adults sat around and laughed.

Two brothers -21 and 18- are being charged with her murder and a 17 year old and a 19 year old are charged with manslaughter. They are also facing separate charges of abusing two other children. Nia's 35 year old mother faces two counts of manslaughter, the first for failing to provide medical treatment and the second for failing to protect her from violence.

Her grandfather has also been separately charged with assaulting and injuring Nia.
The court case is running at the moment and yesterday a witness told the court he saw a young girl being thrown on to a clothesline in an "overarm cricket throw" by one of the accused. Another witness told how he saw her being "slam dunked" on the ground.
Today a neighbour told the court that she would hear lots of "loud, abusive" screaming coming from the house where Nia lived in and sometimes the little girl would come and sit on her doorstep. On the occasions that she gave her food, she would take it and run away without saying anything.
I don't care what people say about rehabilitation, I fail to see the point on spending a cent on trying to rehabilitate these people. Strip them of every human right they have, give them a life of brutally hard labour in solitary confinement, do not let them have any contact with their family, oh and pop them in a commercial sized dryer until their heads start to bleed and they cry out for mercy, to give them a taste of their own actions.

Update: An email from my cousin in Australia regarding this post, she suggested slowly cooking them in oil as an appropriate punishment. I'm liking the cut of her jib.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And I didn't even get wet.

Well it's been a big old ten days, they've included: four trips to the airport (three to get on planes, and one for a pick up), wondering as I jumped from a yacht (see below) to a chaseboat 'I really hope my legs are following me', birthday cake and that food of the Gods - whitebait patties, courtesy of my cousin.

The story goes that my grandfather, as a small boy, once instructed a poor soul in their household who didn't have a clue what to do with a fresh catch of them, that she had to gut them and prick their eyes out with a needle.

I am not sure how many she got through before being rescued by my great grandmother.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yours, potentially drippily....(my new word)....

Am about to head of town on a job for a couple of days. But part of the job means I get to have a blast on one of these guys.

Having said that, I am vaguely concerned how we (literal translation: I) are going to alight from one of those vessels onto a chaseboat mid-sail - without coming a huge cropper.

All I can say is the fact that we weren't blessed with hindsight is possibly a good thing, right now.

I knew him pre-dash.

I am really enjoying this track right now.

I interviewed the guy nearly ten years ago, when he was an emerging artist.

'And can I just get the correct spelling of your name?'


'As in, just the one?'



'And Money. M-O-N-E-Y.'

'Great, think I can cope with that.'


If anyone would like any pointers or lessons in How to be Seriously Uncool, feel free to ask.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ancestral Ghosts

When my family arrived in New Zealand from the other side of the world about six or so generations ago, one lot arrived at the bottom of the country and the other lot (I had previously thought) had pitched up in Gisborne (beach pictures before Posh's shoes).

I do feel sorry for the lot who arrived at the bottom end of the country, they left a bleak cold climate under the illusion that they were heading for tropical climes and, after more than three grim months at sea, they rocked at a place that was host to, pretty much, a bleak old climate (apart from summer that lasts for four days in February).

I am sure many of them would have thought, 'shag this' and then suppressed overwhelming desires to leap back aboard the ship as it made its return journey. My (insert-'many') great grandfather thought 'jeez I'd love a beer' and then went about brewing some - and they, more or less, stayed living around the bottom of the South Island.

I had been under the illusion that the other side of the family had rocked up at Gisborne and thought, 'I'd kill a roast meal' and then set about farming many many many roast meals in the making.

Is there a point to this story, you ask? Kind of, I am getting to it, just taking the scenic route.

With my work, I tend to travel all over the place. And I reckon you always get a sense of a place. Some places you feel real attachments to, and I have always put it down to the fact that it is because of the memories associated with them. I grew up in the North Island but I have a real connection with parts of the lower half of the South Island as lots of holidays were spent there and there are many stories associated with the ancestors all over the place. I have always had a connection with Gisborne as I spent a lot of time there with friends, over the years and ditto re: stories about those who went before us.

But there is a little settlement about an hour and a half from where I live and every time I go through it I have always felt a connection with it. And it's weird, cause there is absolutely no reason for me to feel anything apart from indifference about this place. I have never spent any time there and have not one memory to attach with it. Every time I have gone through it I have always said to whomever I have been travelling with, 'Don't know what it is about this place, but I have always felt strangely comfortable here.'

When my father was staying the other week I was quizzing him about the family history and I was remarking what a great place Gisborne would have been to sail on in to. Apart from the fact that it's a pig of a place to get to from any major city (not that that would have been a major concern over a hundred years ago - everywhere was a pig a of place to get to, then) it's got a great climate, great beaches, great... well, pass me the farm.

And then my father told me that his family hadn't started out in Gisborne at all, they had actually moved to Gisborne.

I asked where they first lived, on arrival in the country.

I don't need to tell you what he said, do I?

Yup, my strangely comfortable place.

And fair-suck-of-the-sav, I had not heard of that piece of information until it came out of his mouth.

Kind of spooky, in a strangely reassuring way.

Either that, or a complete coincidence.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I didn't get Madonna's but I don't get these even more....

Five words.
What on earth did Posh's feet do to her to deserve this?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday's photos.

It's rubbish day today.

Really pleased I'm not a rubbish collector, it'd be a really stinky job and I'd be really useless at it.

And on that note I am going to leave you with pictures of one of my very favourite beaches in the world. It's north of Gisborne. Miles from anywhere and it's about as back to basics as you can get, no running water, you have to dig your dunny ('you' meaning 'the other people I stay there with', cause lets be honest, if digging the dunny was left up to me there'd a be a long queue of busting people.)
We first started going at when I was university, we all used to either hitch, bus, or pray that our old cars would last the schelp to get there. We also swore that it would be where we were going to see the Millennium in (when Millennium seemed a really long time away) and, when it rocked round, true to most people's word, there was a bunch of us gathered from over five countries, one lot of people opting to arrive by helicopter instead of a car.
The day's activities generally include swimming, fishing, eating, drinking and taking the piss out of each other. (Like the guys who arrived in the helicopter. Or the guy who turned up to a place with no power with a microwave pizza. For years after that we were so merciless in our piss-taking of him that for the Millennium he turned up with a power generator and a microwave)

I do think this is the only place that when, on being offered more crayfish, I have said, 'Please go away, because if I eat anymore I think I am going to vomit.'

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Howdy partner.

Apparently, at the other end of these shoes, you would have found Madonna - if you were at the premiere of her movie 'Filth and Wisdom' in NYC.
Don't know about you, but I just don't get them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What would you do in that situation?

Today I bumped into a guy I used to go to university with. I think the last time I saw him was about ten years ago when I bumped into him in a cafe. It was one of those vaguely awkward bumpings-into when, even though you used to know each other really well, you know that chances are that you no longer have that much in common apart from some old shared experiences.

'You're looking well.' He says.

What do you say to that? He could have meant it or it could have just as easily be a euphemism for 'Jeez you're looking a bit rough, love.'

I say this because I brightly said, 'So are you!' (Which was a euphemism for 'Where has all your hair gone?)

This is the guy who, in our first year at varsity, attempted to drive his scooter by standing on the seat (I wouldn't recommend you try that at home). Needless to say the scooter won that competition by a country mile and my mate woke up in hospital possessed by a grumpy old Scotsman.

For an entire week.

Fortunately the Mr Scottish Grumpy eventually left the building, and my friend has no recollection of him ever being there, or how he became possessed but it was certainly one of the more bizarre weeks.

Anyway, our conversation today was kind of littered with pregnant pauses as neither of us wanted to be ruthless enough to say, 'Okay nice to see you and we both know we don't need to organise to catch up, cause in our heart of hearts we know we don't have much to talk about.'

Except he is more polite than me and he said, 'I should get your number so we don't just keep on bumping into each other in cafes.'

I wrote it down for him, handed it over and we went our separate ways.

Ten bucks says he threw it in the bin after he got back to work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Muscat, anyone?

So my father has been down for work and was staying with me. On Friday he was sitting at his computer and called me over to show me something.

I went over and was staring at the page and I saw words like, 'can get passport' and 'foreign money' and my initial thought that he was on a site for fake passports and counterfeit money (he is an arms dealer, after all).

After a moment the words stopped colliding into each other and started to make sense.

It was his invitation to his work conference.

In Greece.

Two words.

Jammie and bastard.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Recipe for the day.

Earlier this week I was saying that curiosity is one of the most underrated human traits.

It got me thinking that gravy was the cuisine equivalent to curiosity. But a little research reveals that it's not that underrated, a guy called Dave Axworthy from Nova Scotia legally changed his forename to Gravy because he was infatuated with the stuff. And in Australia you can get yourself some gravy flavoured chips. (I remain a little dubious about those).

If you want the one of the best gravys in the world, make this roast. It's Richard Till's recipe. And oh my that gravy is sensational, the onions, oh the onions. You could throw away the meat and just drink the gravy.


1 leg of hogget.
3 lg onions
½ bottle of red wine, plus some more for gravy.
Salt and pepper
Flour for gravy


This is important! Slice onions into thin crescents. Slices from top to bottom rather than across into half rings. The onions break down, sweeten and brown much more easily when cut this way.
Make a bed of onions in the roasting pan.
Season onions with 1 ½ tsp salt.
Place leg on onions.
Tip over ½ a bottle of red wine.
Cover and seal tightly with foil.
Put into 160 C for 5 hours.
Loosen the foil in a corner, to allow steam to escape, for the last hour.



Take meat from pan, cover and rest in warm place.
Carefully tip of excess fat, but leave some in the pan to brown the flour in.
Put on an element and add flour (about 4 Tbl)
Cook, stirring and taking great care that nothing starts to burn in the pan, for a minute, until the flour is cooked, then add water and a cup of red wine.
Simmer, check seasoning, tip into gravy boat and lick pan.


Meat will cut with a blunt spoon.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I like this.

This ad went up when Murder Burger in Ponsonby Road, Auckland were looking for staff a month or so ago. If you don't have an industrial strength magnifying glass beside you and want to read it, click the image. My particular favourite paragraphs are the ones talking about the people who they don't think should apply for the job.
'The sorts of people who we don't think would be good for us.
Political students. Nothing personal, we just don't understand you.
P. Addicts. Again, nothing personal, it's just that the benefit of being able to work seven shifts in a row is pretty much outweighed by the probability that one day you will flip, grab a knife, and become Mr Stabby.'
The staff wear t-shirts that say 'Meat is Murder'. Needless to say, they are not a vegetarian burger outfit.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Last week I went to the dentist for a check up.

Mr Dentist discovered I had a hole that needed to be filled.

So I went back this morning, endured all sorts of discomfort, had my mouth filled with weapons of mass destruction in order to have said hole filled.

If you're trying schedule a really horrible day it would start, 8.30 a.m. Dentist appointment. 9.30 Important meeting that you haven't prepared for. 11 a.m. Meeting with the accountant. And your day would slowly disintergrate from there.

But the thing that gets me is that I had to pay the equivalent of a decent pair of shoes for the priviledge of all this dental horribleness.

How does that work ?

Shouldn't dentists being paying us?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Curiosity, there's a lot going for it.

Curiosity. Of all the human traits I think this is one that is thoroughly underrated. I'm not talking about being nosey - I think nosiness is driven by a nasty motivation, whereas curiosity involves being inquisitive, exploring, investigating and learning.

I know that curiosity killed the cat - but have you heard of the come back line to that proverb?

Satisfaction brought it back. ( I am not sure if the cat is still dead at this stage, or not.)

Now, my fruitcake mother is a very cool lady. My brother, sister and I lucked in. All my friends throughout my life rate her as do my brother's and sister's friends. One friend of mine went and stayed with my parents when he started his first job as a lawyer, he was going to stay for a week and left three months later (and later repaid the favour by shouting me a return flight London to Chicago! Result! All I did was lend out my parents). And today all of our friends will go and visit our parents when we aren't there. All her nieces and nephews think she is a rock star, as do her grandchildren.

My mother often shows me up as the slack friend that I actually am, recently one of my oldest friends had a terrible time and ended up spending about four weeks in hospital. We live in different islands, so she got regular phone calls from me - but got regular letters from my mother.

Letters? Remember what they were?

Anyway, I was thinking what it is that makes her so cool. She is: kind, thoughtful, naughty, funny, she doesn't judge, she is wise, she can be delightfully insane, she is self deprecating, she knows so much about the world, she doesn't impose her views and opinions on others and will respect an opposite argument even though she doesn't agree with it, but when I really think about what makes our mother so unique is that she is incredibly curious.

She is so curious about the world and the ways people live. She is interested in the people she meets and fascinated as to why they are the way they are. It's not a judge thing, it's an understanding thing. 'So why do you think like that? What is your story? Oh, you look interesting, tell me your back story.' This is the woman who would rather get a bus than a taxi so she can look at all the people. Honestly, park the woman up at an international airport in the arrivals lounge and she would be so excited about what she was seeing, she would forget to eat.

That's why I wasn't surprised when she told me that she was attending a series of university lectures for the 'third age'.

'What, university for old bastards?'

'Yes darling, and there are some that are about hundred and three. They're the ones who sit up the front and ask all the questions.'

Bloody mature students, no matter what age they are, they always sit up that front and make the slackers down the back look bad.

I asked her what exactly were these lectures she was attending.

'Ohh' she said, her voice full of anticipation and delight, 'I've never understood the Middle Eastern situation and its history so I'm going to a series of lectures about it from various different perspectives: religious, political,geo social....' And then she started saying words I didn't understand and I stopped listening.

'So once you've done these will you be able to tell me if there will ever be peace in the Middle East?'

'From the way it's going I think we will be holding hands across an electric fence hoping no one will turn the current on. That's not an entirely accurate analogy but it means I don't know what will happen and I don't think they do, either. What I do know is that it's going to be fascinating - if I can remember what any of the lecturers say. That's going to be the interesting thing.'

I do like the way her brain works.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

We'll have it up in a jiffy.

I took these photos in Sicily, a couple of years ago.

Can't imagine they have changed much, since.

When came to building Big Stuff That Will Last For Centuries, they kind of had it down pat.

Somehow (the loss of human life and all, aside) pyramids and colosseums seem so much cooler than sky scrapers.